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No More Paper Checks for Social Security Disability Recipients

Check_06042014The Social Security Administration (SSA) says it will no longer have the option of sending paper checks to Social Security beneficiaries starting on March 1, 2013.

The U.S. Department of Treasury had ruled to gradually phase out paper checks for federal benefit payments in December 2010. People newly applying to receive federal benefits had to select to receive their benefits electronically. March 1, 2013 is the final deadline for all remaining federal check recipients to receive their benefits electronically. The Treasury Department reported that 5 million checks continue to be mailed. The switch from paper checks will save American taxpayers $1 billion over the next 10 years.

Beneficiaries will need to have the following in order to switch to electronic payments:

• Social Security number,
• 12-digit benefit check number (located on the upper right hand corner of the check),
• amount of the beneficiaries most recent check,
• bank routing number and
• bank account number.

Beneficiaries will have the option of choosing between having their money direct deposited into their bank account or deposited onto a Direct Express debit MasterCard.

"If you or a loved one still receives paper checks for your benefit payments, now is the time to switch. It's free and easy - just call 1-800-333-1795 or visit www.GoDirect.org," said David Lebryk, commissioner of the Treasury Department's Financial Management Service.

Some Southern and Appalachian States Found to Have Above Average Rates of Social Security Recipients

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities reported that there are a higher number of people receiving disability payments from Social Security or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) living in Southern and Appalachian states than in other parts of the country. While about 6 percent of the working-age population across the country receives these benefits, as much as 10 percent receive them in some Southern and Appalachian states.

In North Carolina, between 5 and 6.99 percent of the population between 18 and 64 years of age receives Social Security disability benefits, SSI, or both. In Kentucky and West Virginia, the rates are between 11 and 12.99 percent, and in Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama, and Maine, the rates are between 9 and 10.99 percent.

The rates are between 7 and 8.99 percent in Michigan, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Rhode Island, Missouri, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Tennessee, and South Carolina.

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities suggests several reasons for this trend, including a less-educated workforce, an older population, fewer immigrants, and a more industrial economy in those states.

In states where higher numbers of the population have not completed high school, there are higher rates of Social Security disability payments. An applicant's work history and education level are two parts of the analysis used to determine disability for Social Security Disability and Supplemental Security Income.

Disability3_06132014Those without much education have fewer options to find other work if they are injured.

Of course, states with an older population are going to have higher rates of disability payments since the risk of injury and disability rises with age. States with a more industrial economy are also likely to have higher rates of disability payment because these jobs have more inherent risk for injury.

North Carolina Social Security Disability Lawyers

Social Security is an important safety net for disabled workers, no matter where you live. If you have applied for Social Security disability benefits or Social Security Income and believe that your claim was unfairly denied, the North Carolina Social Security disability lawyers at the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin may be able to help you. Call 1-866-900-7078 for a free evaluation of your case.

Rejected Social Security Disability Claims May be Heard after Ruling in Class-Action Suit that May Offer Hope in Other Jurisdictions

The Social Security Administration has agreed to settle a class-action lawsuit in Queens that accused administrative law judges of bias when reviewing claims for Social Security disability benefits. The lawsuit claimed the judges trivialized the impairments presented in the application and often brought applicants to tears with harsh questioning. In the settlement, the Social Security Administration has agreed to remove those judges from those cases, which will allow them to be reheard by new judges.

Injury4_07162014The Social Security Administration has also agreed to develop and enact new policies that would try to prevent bias in the review process. A special unit will be created to monitor disability claims for the next 30 months.

According to an article from The New York Times, the Queens office was considered to be one of the toughest in the country in regards to approving Social Security disability claims. The office rejected nearly half of all applicants -- many of whom were immigrants.

The settlement may offer some hope for claimants in other jurisdictions who feel that bias may be affecting decisions reached on their applications for disability benefits.

North Carolina Social Security Disability Lawyers

If you have been denied Social Security disability benefits and you feel that the denial was unjust -- possibly even based on bias -- please call the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin at 1-866-909-7078. You will receive a free evaluation of your case to find out if one of our North Carolina Social Security disability lawyers may be able to help you.

What does it mean when an attorney is a "North Carolina Board Certified Specialist in Social Security Disability Law"?

The North Carolina State Bar oversees the licensing of attorneys throughout the state. In some cases, it awards special licensure to attorneys who show special knowledge and proficiency in their specific area practice of law.

According to the North Carolina State Bar, "Certification of lawyers as specialists by an objective entity and according to objective criteria fulfills the mission of the State Bar to protect the public by providing relevant, truthful, and reliable information to consumers of legal services. Certification helps consumers to identify lawyers who have experience and skill in a certain area of practice. Certification also helps lawyers by encouraging them to improve their expertise in particular areas of practice and providing them with a legitimate way of informing the public and other lawyers of this expertise."

Law2_07312014The North Carolina Board of Legal Specialization grants the certification, which has different requirements for each area of law. Typically, a lawyer who wants to become a North Carolina Board Certified Specialist must have a license in good standing, must have spent a certain amount of time practicing in that area of law, must have taken a certain number of hours of continuing legal education, and must take a written test and receive a peer review.

North Carolina is one of only 18 states that offers a legal certification program.

At the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin, Attorney Rick Fleming is a North Carolina Board Certified Specialist in Social Security Disability Law. Fleming is dedicated to using his knowledge and experience to trying to help clients get the Social Security benefits that they may deserve.

If you have been denied Social Security benefits, call the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin at 1-866-900-7078 today for a free evaluation of your case.

Can I Get Social Security Disability Benefits for a Mental Illness?

 Medical43_07232014Social Security Disability benefits are available for people who have become disabled and are no longer able to work. For some, this may mean a physical disability, such as an injury that leaves you unable to walk or to have full range of motion in your arms. For others, it may mean a mental disability brought on by a mental illness such as schizophrenia.

The Social Security Administration does consider some mental illnesses and disorders as criteria for receiving Social Security Disability benefits. However, many claims that are based on mental conditions are rejected more often than those based on physical disability. The reason is that it can be difficult to objectively show that a mental condition is severe enough to prevent basic work functions. In addition, not all examiners may have the training to understand how to evaluate mental disorders or illnesses in relation to employment.

Some mental disorders and illnesses are included in the Social Security Administration's official listing of impairments (http://www.ssa.gov/disability/professionals/bluebook/12.00-MentalDisorders-Adult.htm) -- meaning that, if you have one of these conditions and meet all of the required criteria noted in the listing, you are considered to be disabled. This list includes:

• Schizophrenic, paranoid and other psychotic disorders
• Affective disorders, such as depression or hallucinations
• Mental retardation
• Anxiety-related disorders
• Somatoform disorders
• Personality disorders
• Autistic disorders and other pervasive developmental disorders

For each of these conditions, other criteria must be met to show that it is disabling.

If you have a condition that is not listed, or if your condition does not meet the criteria in these listings, you may still be eligible for benefits. You will have to show that your condition will interfere with your ability to perform work and that the condition is likely to last for a long period of time.

North Carolina Social Security Disability Lawyers

If you have been denied Social Security Disability benefits, the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin may be able to help you. Call 1-866-900-7078 for a free evaluation of your case and to find out if one of our North Carolina Social Security Disability lawyers may be able to help you!

What is the Difference between Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)?

Social Security benefits provide income to people who cannot work. Both Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) are designed to provide income to people who cannot work because they are disabled.

The key difference between Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits is this: Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits are provided to people who have developed a disability that is likely to last at least 12 months, preventing them from working, while

Confused1_07082014Social Security Income (SSI) benefits are intended to help support those who are disabled and have a low income and have never been able to work (or have not worked long enough to qualify for SSDI benefits).

There are many criteria that must be met in order to qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits. You must start by showing that you have a severe, medically determinable impairment that is expected to result in an inability to work for more than 12 continuous months or that will result in death. A number of factors will be considered to make this determination. You must also have been working a certain amount of time in order to qualify for these benefits.

If you have never worked, or if you have not worked long enough to qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits, you may be able to receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI). To receive these benefits, you must also show that you are disabled and unable to work, and you must meet criteria showing that you have a low income. For more information, check out the Social Security Administration's guidelines (http://www.ssa.gov/ssi/ ).

North Carolina Social Security Disability Lawyers

If you are disabled and unable to work, you may qualify for Social Security disability benefits. However, if you have applied for benefits and have been denied, a North Carolina Social Security disability lawyer may be able to help you. Call the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin at 1-866-900-7078 for a free evaluation of your case. We have a North Carolina Board Certified Specialist in Social Security Disability Law who may be able to help you get the benefits you may need.

What Factors Does the Social Security Administration Use to Determine If I'm Disabled?

Every application for Social Security disability benefits will be reviewed individually on its own merits, and many factors can be considered when determining eligibility.

However, the Social Security Administration does use a 5-step process as a basic framework for determining eligibility for benefits. Of course, interpretations of these guidelines may vary, so each case may be treated differently.

Here are the five questions that the Social Security Administration asks when determining benefits:

Are you working?

If you are working, you may still be eligible for Social Security disability benefits, depending on how much you are making. Generally speaking, if you average more than $1,010 per month in income, you will not be considered disabled for the purposes of receiving benefits. Income limits will vary according to other factors, so you may be able to make more or less than this and be considered disabled.

Is your condition "severe?"

"Severe" is a relative term, and it is defined by how much your disability impedes your ability to do the work to which you are accustomed to performing. If you are unable to perform basic work-related duties, you may be considered disabled for the purposes of receiving Social Security disability benefits.

Injury1_07232014Is your condition found in the list of disabling conditions?

The Social Security Administration maintains a list of medical conditions that are considered "so severe they automatically mean that you are disabled." Such conditions include ALS, multiple myeloma, and being on a list to receive a liver transplant. Mental disorders are also included.

If you condition is not on the extensive list, it will be evaluated based on whether it is comparable to a condition on the list.

Can you do the work you did previously?

A construction worker who loses the ability to walk may not be able to work anymore, while a writer who loses the ability to walk may still be able to work. The construction worker may be considered disabled, while the writer may not since the writer would be able to do the work performed previously. Your disability will be considered in relation to the type of work you have been accustomed to doing, as well as your age and your education.

Can you do any other type of work?

Even if you can't do the type of work you are accustomed to doing, you may be able to do other work. If that is the case, you may not be eligible to receive Social Security disability benefits. The Social Security Administration will consider your age, education, work history and skills to determine whether you may be able to do another type of work.

Every case will be evaluated on its own merits, and application of these guidelines is open for interpretation. In fact, a majority of applications for Social Security disability benefits are initially denied.

If your application for Social Security disability benefits has been denied, a North Carolina Social Security disability lawyer may be able to help you appeal the decision and get the benefits that you may deserve. Call the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin at 1-866-900-7078 for a free evaluation of your case and to find out how one of our Social Security benefits lawyers may be able to help you.

Social Security Administration Announces Offices to Close Earlier Amidst Strained Budget

TimeMoney_07312014Starting Nov. 19, Social Security field offices throughout the country will close 30 minutes earlier each day, and starting Jan. 2, they will close at noon on Wednesdays.

In a press release, the agency said that "significantly reduced funding provided by Congress under the continuing resolution for the first six months of the fiscal year makes it impossible for the agency to provide the overtime needed to handle service to the public as it has done in the past."

While the offices are closed early to the public, employees will work on processing cases and clearing out backlogs. The move will help employees to avoid incurring overtime.

A spokesperson said that the Social Security Administration is operating on significantly less funding than it requested and than President Obama requested.

Numerous offices have already been consolidated over the past couple of years to try to cut the agency's budget. However, hundreds of thousands of people visit the agency's offices or call for assistance every day, and those numbers are only expected to rise as the Baby Boomer population continues to age.

The agency notes that most services provided by the Social Security Administration do not require a visit to an office, including applying for retirement, disability or Medicare benefits. Many services can be completed online at www.socialsecurity.gov or by calling 1-800-772-1213.

North Carolina Social Security Lawyers

If you have been denied Social Security benefits or have questions about your legal rights, call the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin at 1-866-900-7078 for a free evaluation and to find out if one of our North Carolina Social Security lawyers may be able to help you.

Social Security Administration Issues Cost-of-Living Adjustments for Social Security Benefits

 Happy12_08012014The Social Security Administration announced a number of changes for Social Security benefits in 2013 based on increases in the Consumer Price Index from the third quarter of 2011 through the third quarter of 2012. The changes have led the SSA to account for a 1.7 percent cost-of-living increase when determining benefits.

Based on the changes, maximum taxable earnings for social security taxes will be increased to $113,700, up from $110,100 in 2012. The maximum social security benefit for a worker retiring at full retirement age will be increased from the current $2,513 per month to $2,533 per month in 2013.

The average estimated monthly Social Security benefits also rose, from $1,240 for all retired workers to $1,261. Average monthly payments increased for all beneficiaries, including couples, widowed mothers, aged widows and widowers, and disabled workers.

Though benefits and income were both adjusted for cost-of-living increases, the limits on personal resources for determining benefits remained the same: $2,000 for individuals and $3,000 for couples.

For a comprehensive breakdown of all the changes implemented as a result of the cost-of-living increase, visit the Social Security Administration's website.

North Carolina Social Security Lawyers

If you feel that you are not receiving the Social Security benefits that you deserve, or if your claim for benefits has been denied, the North Carolina Social Security lawyers at the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin may be able to help you. Call 1-866-900-7078 today for a free evaluation of your case!

Center on Budget and Policy Priorities Publishes Paper Defending Social Security Disability Insurance

Happy15_07162014A senior fellow at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities has written a paper defending the Social Security Disability Insurance program against claims that spending has gotten "out of control" by saying that the program provides "modest but vital benefits" and that any rise in expenses is primarily attributable to demographic changes.

Many legislators have criticized the program - which provides benefits to people who have become disabled and unable to work - for its increasing ranks. Many see this as evidence that the program is growing too large or that strict standards are not in place to ensure that those who receive benefits actually need them.

Kathy Ruffing argues in her report "Social Security is Vital to Workers with Severe Impairments" that Social Security disability claims are increasing primarily as a result of an aging population, more women entering employment and a rising retirement age that leaves more people in the workforce.

"An unfortunate tactic of some program critics is to compare today's receipt rates with those of the early- and mid-1980s," Ruffing wrote. "That amounts, however, to cherry-picking the data."

In addition, Ruffing argues, the Social Security disability program has strict standards for eligibility, and only 41 percent of applicants are given benefits that cover their "subsistence." Many struggle for years before they are given benefits, living on a significantly impaired salary or no salary at all.

North Carolina Social Security Disability Lawyers

At the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin, we agree that Social Security Disability Insurance is an important program that provides needed benefits for disabled workers. If you have been denied benefits, one of our North Carolina Social Security disability lawyers may be able to help you. Call 1-866-900-7078 for a free evaluation of your case.

Contact Information

Raleigh Law Office

5848-100 Faringdon Place
Raleigh, NC 27609
Phone: 919-834-1184
Toll Free: 1-866-900-7078

Durham Law Office

280 South Mangum Street, Suite 400
Durham, NC 27701
Phone: 919-688-4991
Fax: 800-716-7881

Fayetteville Law Office

517 Owen Drive
Fayetteville, NC 28304
Phone: 910-488-0611
Toll Free: 1-866-900-7078

Charlotte Law Office

1001 Morehead Square Drive, Suite 350
Charlotte, NC 28203
Phone: 704-599-1078
Toll Free: 1-866-900-7078

New Bern Law Office

1505 South Glenburnie Rd, Unit P
New Bern, NC 28562
Phone: 252-634-9010
Toll Free: 1-866-780-3422

Greenville Law Office

702 G Cromwell Dr.
Greenville, NC 27858
Phone: 252-355-5205
Toll Free: 1-866-780-3227

Greensboro Law Office

300 N. Greene Street, Suite 850
Greensboro, North Carolina 27401
Phone: 336-665-7072
Toll Free: 1-866-900-7078

Goldsboro Law Office

214 South William Street, Suite 3
Goldsboro, NC 27530
Phone: (919)-731-2581
Toll Free: 1-866-900-7078

Henderson Law Office

514 Dabney Drive, Suite 200
Henderson, NC 27536
Phone: 252-492-4600
Toll Free: 1-866-900-7078

Roanoke Rapids Law Office

709 Julian R. Allsbrook Highway
Roanoke Rapids, NC 27870
Phone: 252-537-9670
Toll Free: 1-866-900-7078

Rocky Mount Law Office

3202 Sunset Avenue, Suite B
Rocky Mount, NC 27804
Phone: 252-937-4730
Toll Free: 1-866-900-7078

Sanford Law Office

703-B South Horner Boulevard
Sanford, NC 27330
Phone: 919-775-1564
Toll Free: 1-866-900-7078

Wilson Law Office

2315 Airport Blvd Suite A
Wilson, North Carolina 27896
Phone: 252-246-9090
Toll Free: 1-866-900-7078

Winston-Salem Law Office

301 N. Main Street, Suite 2409-C
Winston-Salem, NC 27101
Toll Free: 1-866-900-7078